Bebe Stores appoints ex-Lacoste executive as CEO

Women’s apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc named retail industry veteran Steve Birkhold as its new chief executive as it looks to turn around its business amid declines in same-store sales.

The company also reported weaker-than-expected second-quarter sales, hit by a 15 percent drop in same-store traffic.

Birkhold, who replaces founder Manny Mashouf, joins Bebe from French fashion brand Lacoste, where he was heading its North American business.

The appointment comes three months after Bebe’s board said it had started a search for a new CEO. The retailer, at the time, said it was looking for an executive who could build the brand and lead its strategy of turning into an omni-channel company.

Omni-channel retailing is a structure which enables retailers to speed up their supply-chain operations and enables customers to experience a single mode of shopping whether online, through catalogs or at brick-and-mortar stores.

The company in November appointed Ben Baum as its chief digital officer, a move aimed at beefing up its omni-channel operations.

Bebe on Thursday reported sales of $124.6 million. Analysts on average had expected sales of $142.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said sales were hurt by lower traffic at stores open for more than a year and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Same-store sales fell 10.5 percent in the quarter.

Bebe’s shares, which have lost a third of their value in the last six months, closed at $4.00 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.


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